Letter from C/AM’s Director, Dr. Christina Keppie
As we usher in 2021, we celebrate 50 years of the Center for Canadian-American Studies here at Western and I am very proud to be able to serve as its Director.
When I first came to Western in 2008 as an Assistant Professor of French, former C/AM Director, Don Alper, immediately welcomed me into the Canadian-American Studies’ program by inviting me to lunch. That lunch changed the trajectory of my career as the Center’s academic and non-academic programming assisted and supported my growth as a teacher-scholar in promoting a deeper and more comparatively critical understanding of Canada.
It hasn’t always been an easy journey for the Center; Canada House, while freshly painted in 2020, sits behind the parking lot of the Performing Arts Center and often goes unnoticed. “It looks like a little cottage. I like the look of it but I have no idea what the purpose of it is.” I, and fellow Canadianists, would encounter a similar reaction when discussing our work with scholars from different fields of research; what was the purpose of studying Canada? Aren’t Canadians just like Americans? While Canada and the United States share a continent and are linked by deep economic ties, several common historical experiences, and many cultural similarities, they are also marked by real and important differences.
It is this precise dynamic that drives our mission to expand our common knowledge of Canada and understanding of the shared Canadian-American experience, including both opportunities and challenges. Through the dedicated and relentless efforts of those who have held the position of Director before me, the Center for Canadian-American Studies now stands as a leader in the nation for its academic program and research.
To celebrate this important milestone that is the Center’s 50th anniversary, we are inviting you all to join us in participating in a series of virtual events throughout the entire year of 2021. Our schedule of events illustrates the breadth of the Center’s academic and non-academic programming, highlighting the passionate work of our faculty, students, sister programs in Canada House, and our partnerships both across campus and in the larger community. All events are free and open to the public, and we encourage you to follow along with us this year, bringing your curiosity, knowledge, and ideas. We hope these events deepen your understanding of Canada and its relationship to the United States, as well as the uniqueness of Western’s proximity to the international border and the complexities and opportunities that come with it.
I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to all the individuals working with me to make this an exciting year of C/AM events. Whether you are faculty, staff, student, or a member of the community, your support has been one of my greatest gifts as Director. I’d also like to congratulate former C/AM Director and Professor Emeritus, Don Alper, for his upcoming publication Bridging the Longest Border: A History of Canadian-American Studies at Western Washington University (2021). Copies will be available for purchase at Village Books (Bellingham, Washington) by February 1st. What a wonderful gift for the Center! I can’t wait to read it and I look forward to an engaging discussion as part of the Center’s 50th celebration.
Happy Birthday C/AM!
Director of the Center for Canadian-American Studies and Professor of French